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More than 7,500 people sign petition to save Fairlop Sailing School

Over 12,000 people used Fairlop Outdoor Activity Centre in 2019

More than 7,500 people have signed a petition calling for Fairlop’s Sailing Centre to be rescued. 

Residents have raised concerns after every member of staff at Fairlop Outdoor Activity Centre (FOAC) received an email stating they were being fired and it was being closed. 

Redbridge Council has since released a statement stating it is only shut because of Covid-19 restrictions and plans are underway for it to be upgraded with better equipment.

But campaigners claim the centre may not open again for three or four years as it is being rolled into the council’s Fairlop Waters regeneration plans. 

John Kaylor started the petition and said the centre is still needed by the local community as 11,656 people used it in 2018 while 12,060 residents used it in 2019.

“What is the cost in mental health terms of not having the centre open?” questioned John. “Once it is shut, what do the kids do? Do they turn to crime?” 

He added that it is precisely the type of facility children will need once they are released from lockdown. 

The leader of Redbridge Council, Jas Athwal, has reassured residents that sailing, windsurfing, and rowing clubs will be supported to run activities this summer if Covid-19 rules allow. 

“Unfortunately, due to Covid-19 restrictions, FOAC couldn’t open last year, and it appears social distancing will remain in place through 2021,” said Cllr Athwal. 

“However, instead of closing FOAC, Redbridge Council will be upgrading the centre and working with local clubs and residents to keep as many water activities running as possible this summer – Covid-19 guidelines allowing.”

Campaign group Save Fairlop Activity Centre claim he has since backtracked on this statement in emails to councillors and residents. 

They said 95 per cent of the centre’s user base will not resume activities this year and only private groups will be allowed to take advantage of the lake. 

If you would like to sign Mr Kaylor’s petition, you can do so online here

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